The ready meal collection will see its British heritage meals change to ‘Classic’ status but farmers have taken to twitter to bombard Waitrose after deeming the mislabelling a ‘cheap trick’.
The supermarket has promised a relaunch of its range following a letter to Farmers Guardian which suggested the Waitrose ready meal, which appeared to offer British liver and bacon, actually contained New Zealand lamb.
But farmers said the move is not enough.
Last night they took to twitter and called on Waitrose to ‘ditch its reliance’ on NZ lamb and ‘not bother re-branding’ but instead use British lamb.
In the letter to FG, Margaret Popperwell, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire, said her faith in Waitrose had been ‘shattered’.
She wrote: "I have always considered Waitrose to be one of the leading and most ethical supermarkets for many years.
"The [attached] package makes me wonder about that as it seems to be a misrepresentation of a product whether by accident or design.
"There you see British – fancy writing – liver and bacon, overlaid with very small comparative lettering ‘Made with New Zealand lamb’.
"I think I will stop at Aldi, next time."
Farmers have since taken action against Waitrose and created a twitter poll which has had more than 4,000 responses.
James Rebanks, farmer of Herwick sheep in the Lake District, wrote in a tweet to the supermarket: "Is this poll clear enough for you? - we are very very disappointed in you."
Let's test this. Describing a meat dish as 'British lamb' but making it from New Zealand lamb is...— Herdwick Shepherd (@herdyshepherd1)
Let's test this. Describing a meat dish as 'British lamb' but making it from New Zealand lamb is...— Herdwick Shepherd (@herdyshepherd1) February 12, 2017
John Gregson, senior manager for Agri-Food Communications Waitrose, said the supermarket was undergoing ‘imminent’ changes to its ready meal packaging.
He said the company had also challenged its supplier in an attempt to try and use more British lamb.
"We are about to relaunch the range with the branding ‘Classic’, removing the large ‘British’ reference from the front of pack," he said.
"It is worth saying that this was only ever supposed to denote the origin of the recipe but we understand why confusion has arisen."
The sticker promoting the New Zealand lamb was only supposed to be a ‘temporary measure’ to ensure the provenance of the ingredients were clearer - something the supermarket agreed to amend in November.
But this was seen as ‘dishonest’ and ‘misleading’, with many more farmers taking to twitter to vent their anger and bombard the Waitrose account with tweets.
After discussions with the supermarket for almost two years, NFU president Meurig Raymond said the changes should have been made long before now.
He said: “We made our concerns very clear to Waitrose right from the beginning on this product. The inclusion of the word ‘British’ in the brand name despite the meat being sourced from New Zealand is misleading for shoppers - and it is frustrating for British farmers, especially those who produce lamb Waitrose could have sourced."
In light of the demand for British meat, Mr Gregson said the supermarket had challenged its supplier to explore the practicalities of using more British lamb in its ready meals.
"At the moment, because of our policy of buying and utilising the whole carcase, we do not have sufficient raw material available to make this change but, nevertheless, we are exploring this option", he added.